The Articles of Confederation of the United Colonies of New England; May 19, 1643

The Articles of Confederation betwixt the Plantations under the Government of the Massachusetts, the Plantations under the Government of Plimouth, the Plantations under the Government of Connecticut, and the Government of New Haven with the Plantations in Combination therewith:

WHEREAS we all came into these parts of America with one and the same end and ayme, namely, to advance the Kingdome of our Lord Jesus Christ and to enjoy the liberties of the Gospel in purity with peace; and whereas in our settling (by a wise providence of God) we are further dispersed upon the Sea-Coasts and Rivers then was at first intended, so that we cannot (according to our desire) with convenience communicate in one Government and Jurisdiction; and whereas we live encompassed with people of several Nations and strange languages which hereafter may prove injurious to us or our posterity: And forasmuch as the Natives have formerly committed sundry Insolence and outrages upon several Plantations of the English and have of late combined themselves against us. And seeing by reason of those sad distractions in England, which they have heard of, and by which they know we are hindered from that humble way of seeking advice, or reaping those comfortable fruits of protection, which at other times we might well expect; we therefore doe conceive it our bounden duty, without delay to enter into a present Consotiation amongst our selves, for mutual help and strength in all our future concernments, that, as in Nation and Religion, so in other respects, we be and continue, One, according to the tenour and true meaning of the ensuing Articles.

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1. Wherefore it is fully Agreed and Concluded by and between the parties or Jurisdictions above named, and they doe jointly and severally do by these presents agree and conclude, That they all be, and henceforth be called by the name of, The United Colonies of New-England.

2. The said United Colonies for themselves, and their posterities doe joyntly and severally hereby enter into a firm and perpetuall league of friendship and amity, for offence and defence, mutual advice and succor, upon all just occasions, both for preserving and propagating the truth, and liberties of the Gospel, and for their own mutuall safety, and welfare.

3. It is further agreed, That the Plantations which at present are, or hereafter shall be settled within the limits of the Massachusets, shall be forever under the Government of the Massachusets. And shall have peculiar Jurisdiction amongst themselves as an intire body, and that Plimouth, Connecticut, and New-Haven shall each of them, in all respects, have the like peculiar Jurisdiction, and Government within their limits. And in reference to the Plantations which already are setled, or shall hereafter be erected and shall settle within any of their limits respectively, provided no other Jurisdiction shall hereafter be taken in, as a distinct head, or Member of this Confederation, nor shall any other either Plantation, or Jurisdiction in present being, and not already in combination, or under the Jurisdiction of any of these Confederates, be received by any of them, nor shall any two of these Confederates, joyne in one Jurisdiction, without consent of the rest, which consent to be Interpreted, as in the sixth ensuing Article is exressed.

4. It is also by these Confederates agreed, That the charge of all just Wars, whether offensive, or defensive, upon what part or Member of this Confederation soever they fall, shall both in men, provisions, and all other disbursements, be born by all the parts of this Confederation, in different proportions, according to their different abilities, in manner following, namely, That the Commissioners for each Jurisdiction, from time to time, as there shall be occasion, bring a true account and number of all the Males in each Plantation, or any way belonging to, or under their severall Jurisdictions, of what quality, or condition soever they be, from sixteen years old, to threescore, being inhabitants there. And that according to the different numbers, which from time to time shall be found in each Jurisdiction, upon a true, and just account, the service of men, and all charges of the war, be born by the poll: Each Jurisdiction, or Plantation, being left to their own just course, and custome, of rating themselves, and people, according to their different estates, with due respects to their qualities and exemptions among themselves, though the Confederation take no notice of any such privilege. And that, according to the different charge of each Jurisdiction, and Plantation, the whole advantage of the War (if it please God so to bless their endeavours) whether it be in Lands, Goods, or Persons, shall be proportionately divided, among the said Confederates.

5. It is further agreed, That if any of these Jurisdictions, or any Plantation under, or in Combination with them, be invaded by any enemy whomsoever, upon notice, and request of any three Magistrates of that Jurisdiction so invaded. The rest of the Confederates, without any further meeting or expostulation, shall forthwith send ayde to the Confederate in danger, but in different proportion, namely, the Massachusets an hundred men sufficiently armed, and provided for such a service, and journey. And each of the rest five and forty men, so armed and provided, or any less number, if lesse be required, according to this proportion. But if such a Confederate may be supplied by their next Confederates, not exceeding the number hereby agreed, they may crave help there, and seek no further, for the present. The charge to be born, as in this Article is expressed. And at their return to be victualed, and supplied with powder and shot (if there be need) for their journey by that Jurisdiction which imployed, or sent for them. But none of the Jurisdictions to exceed these numbers, till by a meeting of the Commissioners for this Confederation, a greater ayde appear necessary. And this proportion to continue, till upon knowledge of greater numbers in each Jurisdiction, which shall be brought to the next meeting, some other proportion be ordered. But in any such case of sending men for present ayed, whether before or after such order or alteration, it is agreed, That at the meeting of the Commissioners for this Confederation, the cause of such war or invasion, be duly considered, and if it appear, that the fault lay in the party so invaded, that then, that Jurisdiction, or Plantation, make just satisfaction, both to the invaders, whom they have injured, and bear all the charges of the war themselves, without requiring any allowance from the rest of the Confederates towards the same.

And further, if any Jurisdiction see any danger of invasion approaching, and there be time for a meeting, That in such case, three Magistrates of that Jurisdiction may summon a meeting, at such convenient place, as themselves shall think meet, to consider, and provide against the threatened danger. Provided, when they are met, they may remove to what place they please, onely while any of these four Confederates have but three Magistrates in their Jurisdiction, a request or summons, from any two of them, shall be accounted of equall force, with the three mentioned in both the clauses of this Article, till there be an increase of Magistrates there.

6. It is also agreed, That for the managing and concluding of all affaires proper to, and concerning the whole Confederation, two Commissioners shall be chosen by, and out of each of the foure Jurisdictions, namely, two for the Massachusets, two for Plimouth, two for Connecticut, and two for New-Haven, being all in Church-fellowship with us, which shall bring full power from their severall generall Courts respectively, to hear, examine, weigh, and determine all affaires of our war, or peace, leagues, aydes, charges, and numbers of men for war, division of spoyles, or whatsoever is gotten by conquest, receiving of more confederates, or Plantations into combination with any of these Confederates, and all things of like nature, which are the proper concomitants, or consequences of such a Confederation, for amity, offence, and defence, not intermedling with the Government of any of the Jurisdictions, which by the third Article is preserved intirely to themselves. But if these eight Commissioners when they meet, shall not all agree, yet it is concluded, That any six of the eight agreeing, shall have power to settle, and determine the business in question. But if six doe not agree, that then such Propositions, with their Reasons so far as they have been debated, be sent, and referred to the foure Generall Courts, viz. The Massachusets, Plimouth, Connecticut, and New Haven. And if at all the said Generall Courts, the businesse so referred, be concluded, then to be prosecuted by the Confederates, and all their Members. It is further agreed, That these eight Commissioners shall meet once every year, besides extraordinary meetings, according to the fifth Article to consider, treat, and conclude of all affaires belonging to this Confederation, which meeting shall ever be the first Thursday in September. And that the next meeting after the date of these presents, which shall be accounted the second meeting, shall be at Boston in the Massachusets, the third at Hartford, the fourth at New Haven, the fifth at Plimouth, the sixth and seventh at Boston; and then Hartford, New Haven, and Plimouth, and so in course successively. If in the mean time, some middle place be not found out, and agreed on, which may be comodious for all the Jurisdictions.

7. It is further agreed, That at each meeting of these eight Commissioners, whether ordinary or extraordinary; they all, or any six of them agreeing as before, may choose their President out of themselves, whose Office and work shall be, to take care, and direct for Order, and a comely carrying on of all proceedings in the present meeting. But he shall be invested with no such power or respect, as by which, he shall hinder the propounding or progresse of any businesse, or any way cast the scales, otherwise than in the precedent Article is agreed.

8. It is also agreed, That the Commissioners for this Confederation hereafter at their meetings, whether ordinary or extraordinary, as they may have commission or opportunity, doe endeavor to frame and establish Agreements and Orders in generall cases of a civil nature, wherein all the Plantations are interested, for preserving peace amongst themselves, and preventing (as much as may be) all occasion of war, or differences with others, as about the free and speedy passage of Justice in each Jurisdiction, to all the Confederates equally, as to their own, receiving those that remove from one Plantation to another, without due Certificates, how all the Jurisdictions may carry it towards the Indians, that they neither grow insolent nor be injured without due satisfaction, least War break in upon the Confederates, through such miscarriages.

It is also agreed, That if any Servant run away from his Master, into any other of these Confederated Jurisdictions, That in such case, upon the Certificate of one Magistrate in the Jurisdiction, out of which the said Servant fled, or upon other due proof, the said Servant shall be delivered either to his Master, or any other that pursues, and brings such Certificate, or proof. And that upon the escape of any Prisoner whatsoever, or fugitive, for any Criminall Cause, whether breaking Prison, or getting from the Officer, or otherwise escaping, upon the Certificate of two Magistrates of the Jurisdiction out of which the escape is made, that he was a prisoner or such an offendor, at the time of the escape. The Magistrates, or some of them, of that Jurisdiction where for the present the said prisoner or fugitive abideth, shall forthwith grant such a Warrant, as the case will bear, for the apprehending of any such person, and the delivery of him into the hands of the Officer, or other person who pursueth him. And if help be required for the safe returning of any such offender, then it shall be granted to him that craves the same, he paying the charges thereof.

9. And for that the justest Wars may be of dangerous consequence, especially to the smaller Plantations in these United Colonies, it is agreed, That neither the Massachusets, Plimouth, Connecticut, nor New Haven, nor any of the Members of them, shall at any time hereafter begin undertake or engage themselves, or this Confederation, or any part thereof in any War whatsoever (sudden exigents, with the necessary consequences thereof excepted, which are also to be moderated, as much as the case will permit) without the consent and agreement of the forenamed eight Commissioners, or at least six of them, as in the sixth Article is provided. And that no charge be required of any of the Confederates, in case of a defensive War, till the said Commissioners have met, and approved the Justice of the War, and have agreed upon the sum of money to be levied; which sum is then to be paid by the severall Confederates, in proportion, according to the fourth Article.

10. That in extraordinary occasions, when meetings are summoned by three Magistrates of any Jurisdiction, or two as in the fifth Article, if any of the Commissioners come not, due warning being given, or sent, it is agreed, That foure of the Commissioners shall have power to direct a War which cannot be delayed, and to send for due proportions of men, out of each Jurisdiction, as well as six might doe, if all met, but not lesse than six shall determine the justice of the War, or allow the demands, or Bills of charges, or cause any levies to be made for the same.

11. It is further agreed, That if any of the Confederates shall hereafter break any of these presents Articles, or be any other way injurious to any one of the other Jurisdictions such breach of Agreement, or injury shall be duly considered, and ordered by the Commissioners for the other Jurisdictions, that both peace, and this present Confederation, may be intirely preserved without violation.

Lastly, this perpetual Confederation, and the severall Articles and agreements thereof, being read and seriously considered, both by the Generall Court for the Massachusets, and by the Commissioners for Plimouth, Connecticut, and New Haven, were fully allowed and confirmed by three of the forenamed Confederates, namely the Massachusets, Connecticut, and New Haven; in testimony whereof, the Generall Court of the Massachusets by their Secretary, and the Commissioners for Connecticut and New Haven subscribed them the 19th day of the third month, commonly called May, Anno Domini 1643.

Only the Commissioners from Plimouth, having brought no Commission to conclude, desired respite to advise with their Generall Court, which was granted, and at the second meeting of the Commissioners for the Confederation, held at Boston in September following, the Commissioners for the Jurisdiction of Plimouth, delivered in an Order of their Generall Court, dated 29 of August, 1643, by which it appeared that these Articles of Confederation were read, approved and confirmed by the said Court, and all their Townships, and their Commissioners authorized to ratifie them by their subscriptions, which they accordingly did, the 7 day of September, 1643.

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